Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Lt. Steven Baldovsky

Written by Seaman Sarah Wilson

Lt. Steven Baldovsky, operations officer, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in Seattle, recently received the Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award for his exceptional performance while serving aboard Midgett. Baldovsky has over nine years of creditable sea time and recently demonstrated his grasp of engineering, seamanship and operational skills while leading his department. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford.

Lt. Steven Baldovsky, operations officer, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Midgett, a 378-foot high-endurance cutter homeported in Seattle, recently received the Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award for his exceptional performance while serving aboard Midgett. Baldovsky has over nine years of creditable sea time and recently demonstrated his grasp of engineering, seamanship and operational skills while leading his department. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Zac Crawford.

The life of a cutterman is marked by grit, standing watches around the clock, spending months away from homeport, executing Coast Guard missions on the frontlines and choosing shipmates over self.

The cutterman emblem itself represents that sacrifice. The helm and waves are part of the heritage of life afloat. The five-point star symbolizes the five years of sea time and commitment required to earn the label. The shield in the center signifies the Coast Guard and its 225 years of cutterman history.

With nearly eight years of sea time, Lt. Steven Baldovsky is among those who have endured the rigors of life on the open ocean and joined the ranks of permanent cuttermen. Recently Baldovsky received the the Hopley Yeaton Superior Cutterman Award for his tenacity and exceptional performance as the operations officer on Coast Guard Cutter Midgett.

As the cutter’s “Ops,” Baldovsky guided the Midgett to success at Tailored Ship Training Availability, a grueling audit and proving ground for the cutter’s fortitude and the crew’s capabilities. Midgett returned to its homeport in Seattle with the highly coveted Battle “E” ribbon and the Pacific Area Operational Readiness Award.

“You’ve got to be positive as a leader,” said Baldovsky. “I’m not going to kid you and say every day is perfect. But you’ve got to turn rough days around pretty quickly and be ‘can do’ about it.”

On a patrol of the South Pacific Ocean, Baldovsky helped the Midgett command plan and execute 14 vessel interdictions and thwart seven drug smuggling attempts, resulting in the seizure of more than 16,000 pounds of narcotics.

But life on a 378-foot high endurance cutter is about more than superior seamanship and precise mission execution. It’s about family.

“He has helped me with goals I’ve had in my career, and I’ve seen him do that with other shipmates as well,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Brad McLeod, an operations specialist in Midgett’s combat information center. “He has the largest department on the ship. To be able to sit down one on one and help you out with whatever you need — it’s a big deal to me.”

To some, the cutterman designation is an elite badge of honor, its members an exclusive group of only the saltiest sailors; to others, it is a rite of passage – the inevitable byproduct of their choice to join a seagoing service.

And for others – others like Baldovsky – holding fast the legacy of the Coast Guard cutterman is simply a way of life.

The Superior Cutterman Award recognizes one officer and one enlisted member from the Coast Guard fleet who exemplifies the cutterman spirit and the legacy of Capt. Hopley Yeaton, the Coast Guard’s first cutterman.

Do you know someone who embodies the Coast Guard Core Values of Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty? Please submit your nominations using the “Submit Ideas” link on the right.

Tags: ,